Census: Almost Half of Californians’ Households Speak Language Other than English

Wilfredo Lee/AP

Almost half of the people in California and one-third of Texans speak a language other than English at home, according to a new Census Bureau report.

In 2016, 44.6 percent of people aged five and above “speak a language other than English at home” in California, says the new report, which was highlighted October 24 by CNSNews.com.

If children aged 0 to 4 are included in the calculation, the percentage will rise above 44.6 percent because two-thirds of births in 2013 were Latino, Asian or mixed.

Nationwide, 21.6 percent of people aged 5 and older speak a language other than English at home, and 8.6 percent report they do not speak English very well.

California leads the states with the highest percentage of people who speak a language other than English at home. The list,  in descending order, includes Texas at 35.6 percent, New Mexico at 34.5 percent, New Jersey at 31.7 percent, New York at 31 percent, and Nevada at 30.7 percent. Florida is at 28.8 percent, and Virginia is at 16.2 percent. Read the list here.

In 2016, 12.01 million children nationwide aged 5 to 17 said they spoke a language other than English at home, up slightly from 12 million in 2012, according to data presented by the left-wing Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Census Bureau also says that 18.6 percent of people in California say they do not speak English “very well.” But the bureau reported that the score was 19.4 percent in 2011. One illiterate illegal-immigrant in California who does not speak English at all managed to pass the citizenship test by reciting memorized answers in the Spanish, according to a TV report this week.

The rise of languages other than English is powered by the rising number of resident immigrants, which is expected to dramatically grow in the next few decades unless Congress agrees to lower the annual number of arriving immigrants.

In 2013, Gallup reported that 96 percent of Americans say it is essential or very important that immigrants learn to speak English. According to Gallup:

 Seventy-two percent of Americans say it is essential that immigrants living in the United States learn to speak English. Meanwhile, 20% believe it is essential that Americans learn a second language other than English. These views have changed little since Gallup first asked the question 12 years ago.

The shared use of English is vital to the nation’s politics, according to a 2001 report by conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly, who died in September 2016.  She wrote:

Familiar American political terms cannot be precisely translated into other languages. In particular, the language of the conservative ideology cannot be accurately translated into other languages.

The vision of our Constitution, and the immense individual liberty and economic opportunity that resulted, are inseparable from our language. Our view towards individual rights and privileges is shaped by the language in which those rights and privileges are defined. Professor Edward Sapir of the University of Chicago and later of Yale University wrote, “No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality.” The theory that people who speak different languages have a different world view is known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

Even a familiar phrase such as “the American dream” encounters thorny problems of translation to other languages used in the Americas, where “America” does not mean the United States. The “American dream” cannot be translated as “the United States dream” because it’s not a government dream; it’s the dream of the individuals who seek to achieve and prosper in our unique land of freedom and opportunity.

Many terms fundamental to our American structure of government have no meaning to people in other countries, such as “federalism” and “state’s rights.” Most of the treaties written under United Nations auspices make no allowance for the basic fact that many areas of law involve matters within the jurisdiction of the several states. Other American political terms that cannot be accurately translated include “rule of law,” “limited government,” “separation of powers,” and “gerrymandering.”

The language barrier poses particular disadvantages for conservatives and Republicans because there are so many terms that define their ideology that do not have the same meaning in other languages. The terms “conservative” and “conservatism” cannot be accurately translated. Likewise for dozens of political and legal terms so essential to the conservative ideology, such as “less government,” “limited government,” “individual liberty,” “private enterprise,” “free market,” and “grassroots.” The conservative ideology that government is the problem, not the solution, is not meaningful to people who do not speak our language.

Conservatives and Republicans are finding it very difficult to elect candidates in districts that have large numbers of non-English-speaking voters. They just don’t hear the conservative message because our words and phrases cannot be easily and accurately translated into other languages.

Read the Schlafly report here.


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